Three Coal Poems by Ben Niespodziany

The Logger’s Daughter 

The logger longed for a daughter and when his daughter arrived he was crushed by a truck, stuck between tree and spleen. The daughter remembers nothing of her logger father but her hands do not dance around a saw.

When the War Formed

When the war formed in our corner of the room we moved to another corner of the room. We’re safe here, we said to each other, eyeing the corner with the war. When the war found us in our new corner we stepped out of the window and took to the roof. We could hear the war below us, fighting and writhing, such muffled exhaust. We’re safe here, we said to each other, our dying phones ringing with pleas.

Coal 

It was a long line to the coal mine so we left early and arrived late. The animals inside of the mine were praying or they were dead. We will try again and again.


Benjamin Niespodziany is a Pushcart Prize nominee and Best Microfiction nominee. He has been featured in the Wigleaf Top 50 and has had work appear in Hobart, Maudlin House, X-R-A-Y, Screaming into a Horse’s Mouth, and various others. He works nights in a library in Chicago.

“Here’s a Little Prayer” by Troy James Weaver

When she wakes up, she immediately recalls the last bib she threw to the Goodwill, the last piece of fabric that remained. She’d already been done with the shoes, the little shirts, the pants and the onesies.

Her eyes well as she fingers the rope, her bed companion she spoons in sleep.

The zoo is always empty when she goes, which she likes. She can push through and really get what she wants. She doesn’t go to see the animals. She goes to feel less alone. And the animals always provide, even if she doesn’t see them. Just knowing they are there and always will be. Seeing the changes in the exhibits, the color gradients, the incline of a path, however jarring and resistant, is welcome. The surprising in the ordinary, in the known. Routine. The unknown is a burden girdled to prayer.

The last time she prayed was the day she buried her son. She prayed for the impossible. Then waited. But it wasn’t hers. That prayer belonged to the earth.

When the rope tickles her palms in her sleep, she sees, so clear and possible, what she thinks she needs, what she wants, in dreams, then wakes up and moves into the heat of a new day, forgetting.

She’s a haunted house, who lies about her occupants.

“I hope the last prayer I hear is the sound of the branch breaking,” she says.

Minutes pass watching the ceiling fan circle.


Troy James Weaver lives in Wichita, Kansas. He is normal.

“Revised Syllabus As Personal Essay By A Former Zoom Teacher” — Andy Tran

Intro to Creative Writing

Summer 2020
Monday-Thursday 1:30-3:30 PM

8/10-8/27

Mr. Andrew Tran

Welcome!

I’m thinking about railing a long white line off of my iPhone, and I’m also thinking about buying Ketamine with my future paycheck. Right now, I’m wearing a blue suit and staring at my computer screen,  my face is reflected back and it’s hard to look at myself. I’ve made PowerPoint slides with art from Banksy and Basquiat. I wonder if the kids are excited to learn about Ekphrastic poems.

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Mr. Tran Intro/Half Truths

My name is Mr. Tran. My favorite animal is a Siberian husky. My favorite food is steak. My favorite color is blue. If I could anywhere in the world, I would go to Alaska. I would love to have dinner with a jiggly puff!

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It’s my second day as a Zoom creative writing teacher at a private school. I’ve never taught a class before and I don’t have a degree in education. I don’t have a teaching license, but I have worked with kids on two separate occasions. In Northern, VA, I taught kids at a summer Tennis camp based out of a country club. I’ve also been a support educator/helper at a Jewish Community Center. I know how to coach kids on serves and volleys, and I know how to change diapers. But I also know a few brief things about creative writing. 

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I’M DONE DELLILO by Marston Hefner

IF DELILLO HAD A HORSE THAT WAS INTELLIGENT AND THE HORSE HAD THUMBS AND WROTE BESIDE DELILO> IF DELOILO TOAGHT THE HORSE HOW TO WRITE ID BE THE HORSE

IM DELILLOS HORSE. WATCH ME WRITE.

IF DELILLO HAD A HORSE INSIDE A VACUUM WITH NO AIR OR MATTER ID WRITE IN THE VACUUM. THROUGH THE VACUUM DELILLO CARED ABOUT MY IMPROVEMENT. I AM HIS HORSE. I AM DON’S PRIDE AND JOY. 

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“Treblinka, 1942” by Stuart Buck

I was made in Pakistan in 1927. I came to Germany before Hitler had his hands around the throat of the country. But fascism is never far from the surface and even back then the seeds were spouting thick black stems, choking the air. I arrived in a leather satchel, brown, used and dirty. A man had bought me from a sports shop in Pakistan while visiting a friend and had traveled back to Germany by steamer. 

Like many Germans, the family eventually succumbed to the Nazi party and in time my owner became the Gauleiter for Dusseldorf. I saw little action, being taken out on windless days then replaced and forgotten. When the Fuhrer himself visited Dusseldorf, he was so impressed with my owners running of the local branch of the Nazi party that he asked his aide to invite him to help run Treblinka concentration camp in Poland. Not wanting to leave his family behind, he broke the news to them over spaetzle. 

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“Venom Stained Band-Aid” by Nate Hoil

When you roughed up the snake charmer
you forgot about the snake
and got bit. 
Don’t worry I will bring a hammer. 
When I get there I will bring the hammer down. 
For now keep one eye on the snake and
one eye on your swelling venom filled blood vessels. 
Today started with such up-tempo preparation 
drinking coffee standing up
thinking you could walk into anywhere 
and talk them into hiring you full time, 
thinking you were headed towards an X marked 
treasure chest. 
Soon after, the day revealed its
inability to send positive plotlines your way. 
I even heard 911 left a voicemail message 
word for word imitating 
a voicemail message you left them 
proving you are a cotton candy brain. 
You’ve probably got soft fluffy bunnies 
in your picture book. 
I get bundled up indoors and go outdoors.
One week into January 
I am disintegrated and reconstructed 
into a bag of frozen vegetables.
I cartwheel over moving traffic headed your way. 
When I get there you are dead and
the snake is gone.
The charmer sees the snake in his dreams.

“it’s the christmas of killing yourself” by Eli Sahm

& i’m the michael jordan of shooting 
james bond in the stomach a dozen times
you can’t even handle a pork hammer sandwich
we didn’t come to america for the christmas 
brisket that drips off the bone like spoiled ice cream
because i’m the winnie-the-pooh of eating pussy
you’re the annie oakley of watching me eat pussy
you’re the harriet tubman of doing heroin 

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